Senate Democrats are calling on the National Institutes of Health to renew recently-lapsed funding for gun violence research following the Las Vegas concert shooting.
In a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (Mass.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' Sunday shows preview: Bombing in Kabul delivers blow to evacuation effort; US orders strikes on ISIS-K MORE (Conn.), and 21 others joined Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) in saying that continuing the program is urgent.
“With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence,” the senators wrote.
Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama directed health agencies to begin funding research into firearms. The NIH awarded a total of $18 million for nearly two dozen research projects.
But the funding expired in January and the agency has yet to renew it.
The Dickey Amendment, which was inserted into a congressional spending bill in 1996, has effectively stopped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence.
The amendment prohibits the agency from using government money "to advocate or promote gun control.”
In their letter, the senators noted that while the amendment does bar research promoting gun control, it does not prohibit objective, scientific inquiries into prevention.
Obama also argued that research was not advocacy, which was what allowed the NIH to originally award grants.